ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The name of the woman killed after a reported chase and exchange of gunfire with Guernsey County sheriff’s deputies was released Tuesday, along with more background information on the events that led up to that deadly encounter Friday.
A dispatcher for the Guernsey County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that the agency is not releasing further information at the moment and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is handling the case. But Steve Irwin, spokesman for BCI, confirmed that the woman killed is Joy Graham, 47, most recently of Barnesville but previously a resident of Malaga in Monroe County.
On Friday evening, Guernsey County deputies assisted in a vehicle pursuit on U.S. 22 near Ohio 800. Graham had reportedly attempted to flee after Barnesville police recognized and attempted to stop her, knowing she had an active warrant. The pursuit reportedly continued into Guernsey County to Lake Ridge Road. Troopers spiked the tires of Graham’s vehicle, and she reportedly turned onto Beeham Run Road, then onto National Road then finally onto Ohio 285 (Wintergreen Road), after which the vehicle was disabled. Graham reportedly refused to comply with orders to exit the vehicle and pointed a gun at law enforcement.
Upon approaching Graham, officers used a Taser in an effort to get her to comply. Graham reportedly exchanged gunfire with officers and was wounded. She was transported to Southeastern Ohio Medical Center in Cambridge, where she was pronounced dead a short time later.
Barnesville Police Chief Rocky Sirianni said the chase occurred after an initial encounter involving Graham and his officers.
“To my knowledge, we only had one dealing with her, and that was a couple months before this. She had went, I believe, from Monroe County and was transported to (WVU Medicine) Barnesville Hospital and was released from the hospital,” he said. “She was in the residence of a family member and they didn’t want her there anymore. The officers went there to tell her they didn’t want her there, and she became aggressive with the officers and there ended up being a bit of a lengthy scuffle. She ended up getting some assault on a police officer charges from that incident. That’s ultimately why she had this warrant for her arrest.
“That night (Friday) one of the officers happened to observe her driving and confirmed that she had a warrant, tried to stop her, and she didn’t stop …,” Sirianni said.
“It’s a shame it had to go that way, but … from what I can see from the outside looking in, my guys and every other law enforcement officer involved in this this did everything they could to try to avoid it having to go this way, but I just think she just had it where it wasn’t going to go any other way,” he said.
Sirianni said the initial encounter would have occurred around April. He speculated that Graham might have had mental health issues.
“We’ve had other interactions with other people where there may have been some mental health issues going on there, some mental health stuff that person’s dealing with, and either they’re being combative and we end up having to deal with them in that capacity,” he said. “You can’t predict something like this happening. There’s nothing you can do. We arrested her, took her to jail, put her in the court process and that’s our job. We did everything we could do (during the initial interaction).”
“Even on the first incident, my guys did everything they could have done just to get her where she needed to go and try to get her some help,” he said.
Graham apparently had no criminal record in Monroe County.
“I think she was a local at one time here,” Monroe County Sheriff Charles Black said, adding that his office had never had any run-ins with Graham. “I can’t say I’ve had any personal interactions with her, other than I know she was doing some counselings for the courts.”
“We never had any cases or criminal involvement with Joy Graham, so she was never a defendant and never a suspect in any cases, so I’m not aware of any criminal activity that she was involved in here in Monroe County,” Monroe County Prosecutor James L. Peters said. “I think at some point she moved to Barnesville. … For some period of time she was a licensed counselor and residing here in Monroe County and was providing general counseling services. We never worked with her directly. … We didn’t contract for her services; however, if the court had ordered someone to seek a mental health evaluation or something of that nature, she may have been consulted to do that, but it would have been obtained between the client and Ms. Graham.”